Uselman leads MHS swimmers at state

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MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Gregg Hammill
Nick Lund and Middleton's boys swimming team finished fourth at state./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

 

MADISON — If competitors weren’t aware of Jackson Uselman’s final kick, they were certainly found out about it at last Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 boys state swimming meet.

Uselman, a senior swimmer for Middleton, surged past the competition to capture the individual title in the 200-yard freestyle. Then, Uselman did it again while taking third in the 500 freestyle.

Uselman’s heroics led Middleton to a fourth-place finish in a meet held at the UW-Natatorium.

Uselman trailed Baileu Biwer of Eau Claire Memorial/North well into the 200 freestyle, but shot past Biwer on the final turn and cruised to victory.

“(Biwer) really took it out fast and I knew if I wanted to have a chance to win it I had to keep up with him,” Uselman said.

Uselman won the race in 1 minute, 41.87 seconds, while Biwer finished a distant second in 1:43.44.

“(Uselman) really picked it up there in that second half,” said Middleton second-year coach Luke Lengfeld. “A lot of the guys took it out a little fast and Jackson took advantage of that at the end.“

Uselman saved his best for last in the 500 freestyle as well. He was sitting in fifth-place entering the final 50 yards, then surged past Madison West’s Roy Weng and nudged Muskego’s Patrick Walsh at the wire for third.

“I knew a lot of people in that heat were close so I knew that I needed to have a strong 50 to keep our team in it,” Uselman said. “For me personally, to be happy with myself, I knew that I needed to have a strong last 50. I didn’t want to swim the race and have regrets about it like, ‘I could have gone faster in that last 50 and maybe I would have been fifth.’ But this way I know I did as much as I could and it turned out well for me.”

Uselman finished in 4:41.52, while Walsh finished in 4:41.68.

“That’s his style of swimming ,” Lengfeld said of Uselman. “You don’t need to be out in front the whole time to win it. In his races throughout the season there’s times when he’s out in front the whole time and there’s times he’s not, but he’ll bring it back. That’s one advantage that he has. The other guys need to basically sprint out ahead of him to make sure he can’t catch them at the end. He’s probably one of the best last 50-yard guys in any race here.”

It was Middleton’s second consecutive fourth-place finish at state and Uselman enjoyed playing a major role in the finish.

“This is my senior year. It’s the biggest year for me and I was trying to go out with a bang,” Uselman said. “I just wanted to leave my team with a good image of me as a swimmer and I wanted to give our team a chance to stay in there with Memorial and West and all of them. I just wanted people to know that we’re also a high caliber team that can come out and have good swims across the board.”

Madison Memorial easily claimed its third consecutive state title with 316 points. Madison West was a distant second with 206 points. Eau Claire Memorial/North was third with 191 points followed by Middleton with 168.5 points.

“Everyone here had a great state meet,” Lengfeld said. “It was very competitive and very fast, but all the guys stepped up, even guys that weren’t even planning to score any points moved up into the points. We swam really well, I’m proud of the guys and I think they did a great job this year.”

Overall, three of the top four teams were from the Big Eight Conference.

“It’s a tough conference, but at the same time, the guys are getting a lot better swimming in the conference,” Lengfeld said. “These are going to be the guys that are at state so it gives them the opportunity right away this season to compete with those guys. They have that advantage competing against guys that are going to be at state.”

Uselman was also part of two successful relay teams.

Uselman, seniors Nick Lund and Jack McGovern, and junior Zack Parkin broke the school record they set last week at sectionals, but had to settle for third in the 400 freestyle relay when Madison Memorial put together a record-setting performance.

Middleton’s time of 3:08.56 would have ranked No. 7 among the all-time top performances at state. However, Madison Memorial finished in a state record time of 3:04.89, beating the previous record of 3:06.11 they set at last year’s meet. Runner-up Eau Claire Memorial/North finished in 3:07.89, nearly seven seconds better than its seed time of 3:14.66.

The foursome of Parkin, Lund, McGovern, and Uselman also broke a school record while finishing fourth in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.84.

While Uselman won the 200 freestyle, his teammates weren’t too far behind. McGovern took fifth in 1:44.47 and Lund was 10th in 1:46.66. The threesome accounted for 41 points in the event.

Parkin, Lund and McGovern all competed in the 100 freestyle. Parkin was fifth in 47.15, Lund was 11th in 47.80, and McGovern was 12th in 48.07.

Parkin, who also placed sixth in the 50 freestyle in 21.72 after being seeded 10th, dropped time in both of his individual events and enjoyed his third state meet competition.

“It’s very exhilarating, I really love it,” Parkin said. “It brings out the best in both competitors. It’s very good. I really enjoy that aspect of the competition.”

Also individually for Middleton, junior Cooper Green was 13th in 54.59 and sophomore Lex Peterson was 21st in the 100 butterfly in 55.38.

The 200 medley relay of Green, junior Matthew Kim, Peterson, and junior Lars Haskins took 13th in 1:41.33.

Uselman, who will swim at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse next year, said the team has improved steadily throughout his four years.

“In my four years since my freshman year, the team has come a long way from not even being top 10 to fourth the last two years,” Uselman said. “It goes to show that it doesn’t take long to become a high caliber team. We’ll be up there for years to come.”

McGovern, who competed at state for the first time last year, never expected to compete at the state level.

“I started out swimming my freshman year on JV and I never imagined that I’d get on the podium at state,” said McGovern, who made it to the podium three times on Saturday. “I didn’t think that I’d go to state ever. It was really a great experience … looking out over everyone and Jackson, my teammate, he got first and it was a great moment. I’ll remember that for a long time.”

McGovern had to adjust to swimming four events compared to the two events he swam at state last year.

“There’s a lot more cooling down, warming up, and a whole lot more being in the pool,” McGovern said. “It’s challenging, but it’s just a great way to go out as a senior captain to see my teammates do so well. I know of lot of them dropped places. It was just a great way to end my career.”

Uselman thoroughly enjoyed his final season with the Cardinals.

“It’s been a good four years,” Uselman said. “I’m happy with how this year turned out. It’s been by far my best year and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to share it with.”

 

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